Friday, August 17, 2018

Indicted Journalists

Jose Belo
In 2008, East Timor Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato accused Jose Belo, publisher of investigative newspaper Tempo Semanal of defamation. At the time, many of the press laws in East Timor were inherited from Indonesian military rule. In a number of articles in Tempo Semanal, Belo accused Lobato of corruption and using her power to get friends and family members into high-paying government positions.

In response, Lobato brought a defamation charge against Belo using an Indonesian-era law that made defamation a criminal offense. Lobato was criticized by many members of the East Timor press, as she and other members of the East Timor government were in the process of drafting a new law that downgraded defamation to a civil, rather than criminal offense. Under the old law, Belo faced a possible prison sentence of seven years. Belo said “It’s very sad for my country that they keep using foreign invader’s laws to prosecute me. We should have our own laws.”

After the East Timor Government pressed charges against Belo, several press freedom groups criticized the East Timor Government for limiting press freedoms. Some of these groups include East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), Pacific Media Watch (PMW), and the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ) who sent a letter to East Timor’s President José Ramos-Horta urging him to drop the charges against Belo.

Court decision
Ultimately, outside support for Belo helped his case. In June 2009, Ramos-Horta passed a law that removed defamation as a criminal offense. Soon after, charges against Belo and the Tempo Semanal were dismissed.

Raimundos Oki

On November 10, 2015, freelance reporter Raimundos Oki wrote an article for the Timor Post in which he accused East Timor Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo of possible “bid rigging” in a government computer contract. In this case, Oki contends that Araujo had a history of this practice, and according to internal government documents, he gave preferential treatment to a particular technological firm—Packet Sistemindonesia Teknotama (PT).

Defamation charges

After the story’s release, the government claimed Oki had released the story with a “factual error” by misspelling the name of technology firm, PT. On November 17, 2015, The Timor Post issued a correction with the accurate spelling of PT and printed a written response from the prime minister’s office, defending itself against the accusations. In January 2016, the East Timor Government charged Oki with criminal defamation charges. Oki faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail if convicted.

Outside support

As in the case of Jose Belo, many press freedom groups have voiced their support for Oki. The IFJ, CPJ, and Freedom House are just a few who have reached out to the East Timor Government. In a letter sent to Prime Minister de Araujo in April 2016, they urged him to drop charges against Oki and his former editor, Lourenco Martins. In a response letter to the group, Araujo said: “I will not trade press freedom and fre edom of expression with ‘press irresponsibility’ and ‘irresponsible expression of freedom.”

On 1 June, a Dili court cleared Raimundos Oki and Lourenco Vicente Martins of all charges against them. The two Timorese journalists were on trial on criminal “defamatory false information” charges filed by Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister in 2016.

Raimundos Oki and Lourenco Vicente Martins were cleared of criminal defamation on 1 June by a court in Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital. Prime Minister Rui Aria de Araujo filed criminal charges on 22 January 2016 against the two journalists for “defamatory false information” or “slanderous denunciation” under Article 285(1) of the Timor-Leste Criminal Code over a 2015 article they published about irregularities during the tendering process for a government IT project.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Timorese patience and determination pays off – new treaty to establish permanent maritime boundaries for the first tim

East Timor’s decision to drag the Australian Government to “compulsory conciliation” at the UN has paid off – a new and better treaty is set to be signed next week.

Timor Sea Justice Campaign spokesperson, Tom Clarke, said although the details remained under wraps, all the signs were suggesting that the Timorese are set to secure their permanent maritime boundaries and a fairer share of government revenues from the Greater Sunrise gas field.

“This outcome will be testament to the determination of the Timorese people and their governments to stand firm in the face of a neighbouring bully and claim their sovereign rights. This issue has never been about charity – it’s about justice and what East Timor is entitled to under international law,” said Mr Clarke.

The treaty is scheduled to be signed at United Nations headquarters in New York and the ceremony will be witnessed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“Unlike the old dodgy deals that the Australian Government jostled East Timor into, this new treaty is expected to actually establish permanent maritime boundaries for the first time. This is something the Timorese have been asking for since 2002, but instead successive Australian Governments have sought to short-change them at every opportunity,” said Mr Clarke.

Recent media reports claim that the new treaty will give a larger share of the government revenue from the Greater Sunrise field to East Timor – 80% if the gas is piped 450 km to Darwin for processing where Australia will reap the downstream economic benefits of jobs and related activities, or 70% if the gas is piped 150 km to East Timor.

“We’re hoping there’s not too much devil in the detail, but overall this treaty sounds like it will be a significant improvement. We should remember that in the original treaty regarding Greater Sunrise, the Australian Government offered Timor a miserly 18% of government revenue. Whereas under this new treaty, the Timorese could receive up to 80% of the revenue, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that Timor’s decision to stand up for its rights has been completely vindicated,” said Mr Clarke.

The Timor Sea Justice Campaign is a grassroots campaign made up of concerned Australian of various backgrounds and political persuasions which held its first meeting in 2004 and has doggedly followed and sought to expose the dubious actions of successive Australian Governments.

“Over the years the Australian Government has tried every trick in the book to try to short-change our Timorese neighbours out of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues. Fortunately, ordinary citizens have taken a stand each time to call out our Government’s greed. We stood in solidarity with the Timorese people and we owe a big thanks to all the people who helped along the way – everyone who wrote letters to MPs, turned up to our protests, chipped in a few dollars here and there, and organised events at their schools, churches and in their communities. It’s another example of the fantastic history of solidarity between the people of Australia and East Timor,” said Mr Clarke.

For further details or comments, please contact Tom Clarke on 0422 545 763

Timor Sea Justice Campaign 

Rohingya crisis: KS Relief gives US$2 million to strengthen Sadar District Hospital in Cox’s Bazar

REPORT from World Health Organization
Published on 28 Feb 2018

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 28 February 2018The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre announced a US$2 million grant to the World Health Organization for upgrading the Sadar District Hospital in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to enhance health care services for Rohingyas and their host communities.

WHO leads and coordinates the efforts of over 100 partners managing more than 270 health facilities, while also providing medicines and medical equipment, diagnostics, guidelines and trainings and building laboratory capacity. The existing facilities in and around Cox’s Bazar have reported a 150-200% increase in patients, overwhelming current capacity and resources.

At present, all patients with more serious conditions are referred to and treated at Sadar District Hospital. To meet the increased needs, the hospital needs to scale up staff, medical and surgical supplies, bed capacity, and basic commodities.

“KS Relief is pleased to support our partner WHO in providing much needed health services to the Rohingyas and host communities in Cox’s Bazar,” said H.E. Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, KS Relief's Supervisor General and Advisor at the Royal Court. “We trust these funds will go a long way to help improve people’s health and lives in what is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.”

An estimated 688 000 Rohingyas have crossed over to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017, joining nearly 212 500 others from earlier waves. Nearly 1.3 million people are being targeted for humanitarian assistance, including recently arrived Rohingyas and the host communities.

As a group, the Rohingyas’ health have been neglected, many have arrived in Cox’s Bazar with poor health statuses and health behaviours. For example, many Rohingya children’s immunization statuses are very low, around 50% of Rohingya children are malnourished and anaemic, and some two-thirds of pregnant women have no or very limited access to obstetric care.

“Over the next year, the much-needed funds from KS Relief will help upgrade Sadar District Hospital to cope with the increased demand for emergency obstetric care, trauma services and diarrheal disease management, for both in-patient and out-patient services,” said Dr Bardan Jung Rana, WHO Representative to Bangladesh, a.i.

For example, the KS Relief funds will be used to double the number of in-patient beds from 250 to 500, and to improve trauma and emergency obstetric care services.
Media contacts:

Catalin-Constantin Bercaru, WHO Bangladesh
Phone: +88 01787693318

Shamila Sharma, WHO South-East Asia Regional Office
Phone: +91 9818287256

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Arsenio Bano expels journalist in public place

AMBENO – President for the Special Regional Administrative Oe - Kusi Ambeno Authority and Special Zone for Economic and Social Market Arsenio Paixão Bano expelled the daily correspondent of Suara Timor - Lorosa'e (STL) Oe - Kusi Ambeno Abilio Elo Nini for assuming his coverage for the development process in Oe – Kusi Ambeno is incompatible with the truth.

The journalist associations in Timor - Leste are concerning about this matter and already planning to deal with this case particularly about journalists' safety.

The process of expulsion occurred when journalist Abilio went to confirm something else to Arsenio Paixão Bano who was led a FRETILIN party meeting in the Numbei church hall in Oe - Kusi Ambeno on Saturday, 24 February 2018. 

Journalist Abilio also did not enter the meeting because he knew that the meeting was closed to the media, and when in a break time, the public works director accompanied Abilio to approach and find Arsenio Bano to confirm other things but unfortunately Bano immediately expelled Abilio from the meeting. Abilio came out of the meeting hall and sat alone outside, and Bano still sent one of his staff named Amisto Pinto to expelled him from the area. Abilio leave the place with disappointment and feel ashamed for being expelled in public places.

Bano was an important member of FRETILIN's party structure and also as a substitute for Mari Alkatiri as President for the Special Regional Administrative Oe-cusse Ambeno Authority.

"Do not believe him, and do not trust the media anymore because they make a lot of false information", says journalist Abilio mimicking Bano's statement.

Abilio explained Bano's statement that, the media would choose any party please.

“I do not want to fabricate any kind of information. Thus Arsenio showed me his fingers and asked me to get out”. 

“I know you media faked a lot of information. No one can come to interview me. Better get out of here”. 

President for the Special Regional Administrative Oe-cusse Ambeno Authority and Special Zone for Economic and Social Market Arsenio Paixão Bano denied that he did not intimidate the journalist because intimidating for him is out of date, and also not interested in making trouble with others.

“No intimidation. I do not want to give interviews to reporter who write lies” Bano said.

When I shared this news on my Facebook, Jose Antonio Afo'an who also worked in Oe - Kusi Ambeno immediately denied that this news was a fake, and there was no expulsion of STL journalists in Oe - Kusi Ambeno. Not just him, but Arsenio Bano has also denied it, and finally he recognize that he has expelled the journalist at the time.

"Hahaha okay. Was Not rigth time then. Yes he was expelled from the meeting that he was Not allowed in because meeting only for party members. Now, í think, Your tune is getting better. I'm done. Good nigth" he said.

Sunday, Feb 25, 2918

Oe – Kusi Ambeno, separated from the rest of Timor-Leste, has often been ignored, and poverty and health statistics show the results. Lately, however, it has been getting attention, even before the Special Zone is really underway.

According to La'o Hamutuk's report that, the 2013 General State Budget was the first to appropriate money for Oecusse regional development from the Infrastructure Fund, and $3.8 million of the $10.6 million appropriated for that year was spent. The 2013 State Budget also appropriated one million dollars for "operational expenses" for ZEESM, of which $925,213 was spent.  The largest amounts went for consultants ($294,000), renting an office in Timor Plaza ($223,000), travel ($78,000) vehicle purchases ($67,000).

La’o Hamutuk added, the 2013 General State Budget was the first to appropriate money for Oe – Kusi regional development from the Infrastructure Fund, and $3.8 million of the $10.6 million appropriated for that year was spent. The 2013 State Budget also appropriated one million dollars for "operational expenses" for ZEESM, of which $925,213 was spent.  The largest amounts went for consultants ($294,000), renting an office in Timor Plaza ($223,000), travel ($78,000) vehicle purchases ($67,000).

According to 2014 Budget Book 6, the State plans to spend from the Infrastructure Fund for the Oe – Kusi Region as shown at right, in millions of US dollars:
These projects include the Tono irrigation system, a reference school, power station, roads and market. Additional money is allocated for other infrastructure in Oe – Kusi, including public buildings, a border post and water supply.

However, the largest financial allocation for Oe – Kusi in the 2014 RDTL budget is $20.5 million as a public transfer to the SAR Authority, which was added by the closed-door Komisaun Eventual a few days before Parliament approved the budget. This amount, most of the $22.9 million for ZEESM within the $27.2 million budget of the Minister of State for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, is projected to increase every year. Public transfers are not under procurement, tender or reporting rules, and the ZEESM authority will decide how to spend it. According to the Transparency Portal accessed on 30 June, $184,700 had been spent on ZEESM between January and June 2014, all for Goods and Services in the "National Region," including $79,100 for operational expenses (including office security), $31,500 in cash advances, $24,200 on overseas travel and $22,100 on professional services (website and consultants) and $18,500 on utilities.

The spending described in the previous paragraph is to plan and promote ZEESM, not actually to implement or build parts of it. According to the Situation Analysis, "This designated zone would require an estimated $4.11 billion ($4,110,000,000) of investment over a 20 year period, of which 67% or approximately $2.75 billion will be private sector investment and the remaining 33% or $1.36 billion will be contributed by the public sector." We hope that these precise numbers come from a detailed cost analysis, and that there will be clarity about who will pay for the losses if the investments are not as profitable as predicted.

From 2015-2017 ZEESM has received almost five hundred and fifty million dollars ($545,000,000) for their infrastructure projects and RAEOA.

After Oe - Kusi Ambeno became a Special Region Administrative Oe-cusse Ambeno Authority and Special Zone for Economic and Social Market in early 2015 was ‘slightly closed’ to media coverage, and many comments stated that the current mega project in Oe - Kusi Ambeno ‘lack of transparency’ but RAEOA always denied that all mega project there is very transparent. 
It is alleged that some Non-Government Organizations in Oe - Kusi Ambeno were silenced, and there were only two media who covering in Oe – Kusi Ambeno namely Radio Timor - Leste and Suara Timor - Lorosa'e daily. However, during this time only the STL daily covering and high light the social issues that happen in Oe - Kusi Ambeno, but now there is already an indication of expulsion of STL journalist in Oe - Kusi Ambeno.